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Biodiesel Process Trainer with PLC Controls
The Biodiesel Process Trainer is a pilot-scale plant that demonstrates both batch and semi-continuous conversion of vegetable oil (triglyceride) feedstock into biodiesel (ethyl esters of fatty acids). The process trainer has instrumentation to provide for control of all process flows, temperatures and levels. This trainer provides students the opportunity to gain real operating experience focusing on all aspects of biodiesel production: the chemical process, control strategy, and management of the chemical process. 
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The separation unit provides for distillation separation of the excess methanol and subsequent gravity separation of the produced biodiesel and glycerine by-product. The Biodiesel Process Trainer will produce (in an instructional laboratory setting) biodiesel approaching the commercial standard: ASTM-D-6751. With this process trainer the students will be responsible for the entire biodiesel production chain: from feedstock preparation to production of commercial grade B-100 biodiesel.

The Biodiesel Process Trainer is equipped with process measurement and control devices including programmable metering pumps. The entire trainer is controlled from an industry standard PLC interface and operator computer station. 
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The conversion of triglycerides into biodiesel is normally performed by base-catalyzed conversion. This reaction takes place at modest conditions of temperature and pressure and can produce conversion rates over 98%. The rate of reaction is influenced by several factors including temperature and degree of mixing. The Biodiesel Process Trainer is designed and built for instructional use and includes many student-friendly features. The main reaction vessel is constructed from industrial glass allowing the students to visually monitor the trans-esterification process.

This highly flexible process trainer incorporates various commercially available mixing technologies and process configuration options to allow for the comparative analysis of the technologies currently available in the biodiesel industry.

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This trainer integrates two biodiesel production process stages:
  • Basic chemical conversion
  • Advanced product purification and methanol recovery systems

These mixing technologies include:
Batch processing with:
  • Reactor circulation
  • Static on-line mixing
  • High shear mixing
  • Ultrasonic enhanced mixing

Semi-batch processing with:
Static in-line mixing
High shear mixing
Ultrasonic enhanced mixing
Continuous processing with: